Jatbula Trail

Named after the Jawoyn Traditional Owner, Peter Jatbula, the Jatbula Trail is a 62km (38.5 miles) one-way hike located in Nitmiluk National Park in Northern Territory. The Jatbula Trail begins at Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge and ends at Leliyn (Edith Falls), traversing the western edge of the Arnhem Land escarpment. Hikers on the Jatbula Trail can follow in the footsteps of the Jawoyn people, who have inhabited this land for generations.

Planning a hiking trip on the Jatbula Trail? This guide includes how to get there, detailed steps required for your Jatbula Trail booking, a handy Jatbula Trail map, and updated information on Jatbula Trail costs.

The Jatbula Trail Hike - A Nitmiluk National Park Guide

Jatbula Trail Map + How to Get There

Where is Jatbula Trail? Jatbula Trail is located near Katherine in the Northern Territory. The starting point (Nitmiluk Gorge) of Jatbula Trail is 27km away from Katherine. The end of the trail at Leliyn is approximately 63km away from Katherine.

How to Reach Jatbula Trail: If you’re traveling from Darwin to Katherine, your options are to take a 55-minute flight from Darwin International Airport to Katherine Airport or to drive 317km (4 hours) to Katherine. If you want to drive, take National Highway 1 in Holtze from the A15. Then, follow National Highway 1 to O’shea Terrace in Katherine. 

Jatbula Trail Ferry: To get to the trail, you can be picked up from Katherine to Nitmiluk Gorge, which is 27km away. From Nitmiluk Gorge, you need to take a ferry from Nitmiluk Gorge to the start of the trail at 17 Mile Creek. The ferry costs $23 AUD per person and departs twice a day–once at 7 A.M. and once at 9 A.M. Passengers must be at the boat ramp 15 minutes prior with permits ready in hand. Book your ferry with Nitmiluk Tours

Transfers to Visitor Centre or Katherine: Once you finish the 62km hike and end at Leliyn, you are eligible to be transferred to the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre or Katherine. Leliyn to Katherine is a 63km (45-minute) drive, and Leliyn to the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre is a 90km (1 hour) drive. Gecko Canoeing and Trekking offers transfers. 

By car: Cars can be parked at public parking lots on both ends of the trail. However, you must tell Leliyn kiosk or Nitmiluk Gorge’s desk the details of your car, your name, and your return date. 

Map of the Jatbula Trail; courtesy of nt.gov.au
a stunning waterfall flowing into a plunge pool with green trees on the sides of the waterfall and clear blue skies on the Jatbula Trail
IG: @traveling_hiking_australia encapsulating the beauty of a cascade on the Jatbula Trail

Jatbula Trail Booking 

Jatbula Trail Cost: Check out the updated information on Jatbula Trail costs here.

How to Book: Before you use the Northern Territory’s official government website to book your Jatbula Trail trip, you need an account on the booking system with a valid email address, as well as a credit card to pay for the trip with.

Then use the Northern Territory Parks Booking System to book your multi-day walking trail reservation. Choose the Jatbulta walk and include your start date, number of nights, and number of people. Next, choose a campground. Finally, reserve your trip and complete the final details, pay, and you’re set to go trek the Jatbula Trail!

Jatbula Trail Itinerary

The Jatbula Trail is commonly completed over the course of 5-6 days. Each night is spent at a campsite you book in the trail’s booking system, and each campsite is located near a beautiful spring, waterfall, or cascade. 


Trail Length


Nitmiluk to Biddlecombe Cascades – 8.3km


Biddlecombe to Crystal Falls – 11km


Crystal Falls to 17 Mile Falls – 10km


17 Mile Falls to Sandy Camp – 16.8km


Sandy Camp to Sweetwater Pool – 11.1km

Direct to Leliyn – 15.6km


Sweetwater to Leliyn – 4.5km

IG: @tashframe__ enjoying a beautiful swimming hole on the Jatbula Trail

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a small river flowing in between two risen riverbanks and a sunset in the background, shrubbery on the sides of the river
IG: @desertroppo photographing a sunset on the Jatbula Trail

What to Pack For The Jatbula Hike

Jatbula Hiking Pack: There are several items that must go into your Jatbula Trail hiking pack! For clothes, make sure to pack long and loose clothes, hiking socks/boots, a microfiber towel, and a bandana to wick away sweat or cover wounds.

Overnight Camping Supplies: For overnight camping, pack sleeping bags, sleeping mats, and blankets. Bring a portable cooking set, like the Triangia, a small non-stick pot, non-perishable food items (beef jerky, cup-a-soups, etc.), and protein bars as a snack.

Personal Health & Hygiene: Remember to pack medical supplies as well: bandages, tweezers, painkillers for fatigue, sunscreen, insect repellent, hand sanitizer, and alcohol wipes for injuries. Make sure to pack a lot of water, as well as a purifier or purification tablets. 

Safety Along the Jatbula Trail

Hiking Difficulty: Before you leave for Jatbula Trail, make sure you’re physically fit with relative bushwalking experience due to the difficulty of the trail. Jatbula Trail is rated as a grade 4 track (moderate to difficult), so practice walking over rough terrain with heavy backpacks. 

Required Briefings: Safety briefings are given at 8am and 3pm each day; however, if you’re taking the 7am ferry, you must attend the 3pm briefing the next day. If you’re taking the 9am ferry, you can attend either.

Safety Tips: Tell a trustworthy person about your whereabouts and personal information, and bring a satellite phone or beacon locator with you in the case that you need to be rescued.

Drinking Water: Each campsite on the trail is located near freshwater, but before drinking anything, filter the water and use a purification device (such as a water purifier or purification tablets). Make sure to drink lots of water to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Cooling Off: There are several waterholes, creeks, and other swimming options that are safe to swim in, but on the Jatbula Trail, you should always be aware of your surroundings. Do not climb waterfalls or get close to cliff edges, and be on the lookout for fast flowing rapids and slippery rocks. 

a murky river in between green grass and rock structures with sparse trees surrounding the river and blue skies on the Jatbula Trail
The Jatbula Trail by @mekong.meg

Top Jatbula Trail Tours

aerial view of Northern Territory landscapes from helicopter
Katherine Gorge & Jatbula from Above

Katherine Gorge & Jatbula from Above

Take to the skies with our Katherine Gorge, 17 Mile Valley & Edith Falls Helicopter Tour for a stunning look at the Katherine region. Starting from Katherine, you’ll follow the Katherine River to the mouth of the Katherine Gorge, flying over all 13 gorges. Next, we head to 17 Mile Valley, following the famous Jatbula Trail to spot the waterfalls at Biddlecombe Cascades, Crystal Falls, and 17 Mile Falls. The tour continues over the NT outback, finishing with a view of the beautiful waterfalls and pools of Edith Falls on the Edith River. This tour is a great way to see the natural beauty of the Katherine region from above.

Katherine Gorge & Jatbula from Above with Remote Landing

Enhance your helicopter tour with a landing at a remote helipad on Hilly’s Hill, an impressive sandstone gorge. Enjoy the incredible NT sunset from this serene spot, complete with a complimentary drink and cheese board. Spend about half an hour taking in the views before returning to Katherine.

helicopter in remote area in Northern Territory
Katherine Gorge & Jatbula from Above with Remote Landing

We hope our comprehensive guide has helped in your Jatbula Trail hiking preparations! Enjoy your journey in one of the most famous multi-day hikes in the Northern Territory!

Have you explored Nitmiluk National Park or the Jatbula Trail? Share your experiences below!

Norther would like to invite you to explore more about the beauty of the Jatbula Trail and Nitmiluk National Park here. And… as always, you can get more inspiration for other National Parks & Destinations to visit by following @northerhq or get your Nitmiluk National Park daily fix @nitmiluknationalpark on Instagram or join the official Facebook group

*Cover image by @grants_abroad